Democracy in Exile

Samdhong Rinpoche, the first democratically elected chairman of the Tibetan Cabinet-in-Exile, discusses the challenges of building a Buddhist democracy.

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On September 5, 2001, monk, scholar, and political figure Samdhong Rinpoche became the first democratically elected chairman of the Tibetan Cabinet-in-Exile. He polled more than 85 percent of the total votes cast by Tibetans around the world. Born in 1939 in Jol village in the eastern Tibetan province of Kham, Samdhong Rinpoche fled Chinese-occupied Tibet in 1959. He lives in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. He was interviewed in early July by Tricycle editor-in-chief James Shaheen during a visit to New York City.

As the first elected leader of the Tibetan Cabinet-in-Exile, what challenges do you face?

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